Property development teams, civil engineers, and landscape architects should take note of a change in the Chicago Department of Buildings landscape certification process. It now requires that the Landscape Architect of Record conduct their own site visit to confirm that the built landscape elements conform to the permitted plans.

Review the landscape ordinance and the landscape ordinance guide.

Eli Lechter, a landscape architect at RATIO, said, "Most of the good landscape architects in Chicago already provide this service, we want to make sure it's installed as designed, because we care about the experiences that people have in Chicago."

This replaces the previous process of DOB sending one of their own inspectors to spend time on this part of the inspection.

Lechter said he conducts several inspections during installation as part of RATIO’s participation in the project and sets up a punch list. “Not only am I looking for trees that have too small of a caliper or broken branches, I am looking to make sure that the hardscape elements are compliant, and match the design and quality the client or community approved.”

After their final inspection, the Landscape Architect of Record must then complete a certification form (.doc) that is submitted to DOB as part of the Certificate of Occupancy process.

Lechter had another piece of advice for other landscape architects working in Chicago: Pay attention to what community groups and business improvement districts have set forth in their own streetscape design plans. “The local Special Service Area* might have a specific plan for hardware or planter styles”, he said. “The constituency there has approved that, either through their representatives or through a public process, and we don’t want to propose anything that clashes with that.”

* A Special Service Area (SSA) is similar to Business Improvement Districts (BID) in other municipalities.